Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney "has a shot" at winning the White House in 2016, and could follow in the footsteps of former Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan who failed to win the nation's highest office on their first attempt, said GOP strategist Karl Rove.
What Romney will have to do is to show he's serious and wasn't merely "teasing people" when he recently told donors he was interested in running again, Rove said. He would also need to convince voters and donors he was committed to changing the mistakes that caused him to lose the presidential race three years ago.
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"He certainly has a shot. He was the Republican nominee in 2012, so he's got a lot of advocates and followers," Rove told Fox News' "Happening Now" on Monday. "He's going to have to say, 'Look. I get why I lost last time around, and I'm making changes that will make you feel that I'm going to be a better candidate.'"
The process of winning the presidency took Nixon eight years, Rove said, because he had to "prove that he was different and had changed," adding Reagan did the same when he ran for president.
"Ronald Reagan had to do it between 1976 and 1980. In 1976, his campaign was focused on knocking down [former Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger and his foreign policy. By 1980, it was the optimistic sunny Reagan talking about Kemp-Roth tax cuts," he said.
Rove said there were as many as 23 Republicans seriously eyeing a run for the White House, and predicted it was going to be an "unusual" contest. One thing that would be different was that all the candidates would be "judged on how they handle the dynamics of the campaign — how do they handle success and adversity over the next 12 months, 13 months?"
With so many potential candidates, he said it was both bad news and good news that "the big names are all talking about running," because it would put a "premium on people and on money and on time."
Rove said none of the Republicans interested in running would pull away from the party and run as an independent, predicting that "the odds of that are slim or none, and Slim's saddling up his horse and getting ready to ride out of town."
"Running as an independent is very difficult in modern American politics," he said. "I see all [of the potential candidates] as loyal Republicans who want to run as the Republican nominee, and who will support the Republican nominee, if it's not them."
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